Friday, 2 December 2011


I have fond memories of Santiago, where we stayed with a friend and had an opportunity to relax, stop moving and sight-see.
Still with backpacks I rebel and refuse to go to mass. Elke calls our contact who sends his housemate Jesus (pronounced Suso) to get us. We're sitting at a cafe. The German fellow I connected with stops to talk, he's flying out in the morning. I'm feeling a sense of loss when I walk away. No contact info, I feel dumb for not initiating it and wonder if this is how it is… We walk together, make "friends" then walk away back into our own lives.
Jesus takes us past the university then up the hillside to our temporary residence. Struggling with our limited Spanish we attempt to make conversation.
My 40 year old Spanish is still not coming back.
I'm happy when Jesus brings out a book on the local cogumelos (Gallician/Potuguese for mushrooms) and we have some laughs as I read out the descriptions of familiar fungi.
Cesar arrives and we go out on the town. That local music fest means some of his favourite haunts are unavailable due to the crowds. Wall to wall, a taxi inches through, the crowd parting then re-forming.
We sample tapas of many kinds,I pass on the fried pigs ears. Later hang out at a bar with a terrace/patio on a sloping street. I'm afraid to lean back or I'll tumble out of my chair down to the building below. The walls around create some interesting acoustic affects, what with roving bands and many conversations all around. It sounds like birds singing. I feel completely alone and removed from the scene. When I share, Elke is having a similar experience.

Cesar takes us on a tour of the old town, showing us the best examples of various forms of architecture including chimneys

More tapas, special hang-out spots and the town market;.
fish, meat, vegetables, fruit, home-brewed liquors, honey, potted plants, kitchenware and clothing.

Another day we drive into the country where his friends have bought land. They take us on a walk-about, among the eucalyptus, pines and oaks, sharing their visions for the future.
Later we walk down to an old mill site on the river. Jesus opens up a chestnut to eat raw, on the way back we fill our pockets.

We do laundry, collect our stuff at the post office, run into more peregrinos, get our certificate and go to mass in the Cathedral.

Outside and above Santiago, an architectural monument of epic proportions in stone and glass is under construction. Visible from almost everywhere it demands a visit.I am awed by the scale of it, although it seems less than people friendly, we explore what is finished and go away feeling somewhat stunned.

The final piece of pilgrimage includes a trip out to Fisterra. On the way a visit to Cesar's work place, a stone cutting establishment. Inside the owner has a spiral staircase with a sawblade for a door.It rains.

Sunshine at the coast, the tradition is to burn some item of clothing out on the rocks below the lighthouse. Instead we sit and contemplate the vast scene, trying not to inhale the smoke as folks are burning their socks, backpack or what have you, mostly synthetic. Yuck!
There are little blackened spots all over the bare rocks, evidence of fire burning the almost (now) non existent vegetation and "shrines" where folks have left behind their stuff.

Driving south along the shore to a favourite beach, another tradition is to strip down and jump in. I stand at the edge to check out the temperature, brrr! Hardly a soul here today, Cesar tells us in the summer it's packed with people.

A bit of car trouble, we head back and in the morning the car won't start. I go off with Cesar once it's running to look for parts. Eventually he determines he will need to drive to his home town 6 hours away. He leaves later that afternoon.
Time for us to move on as well, I go to the market buy fruit, cheese and bread for our trip south. In the morning we rent a car and I get to drive!

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